MTN Nigeria has been fined a total of NGN1.04 trillion (USD5.2 billion) by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), after the South African-owned mobile operator failed to meet a deadline for the disconnection of over five million subscribers. In a statement to shareholders, MTN Group said the penalty relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million subscribers – which it says took place in August and September 2015 – and is based on a fine of NGN200,000 for each unregistered line. The company added that MTN Nigeria was ‘currently in discussions with the NCC to resolve the matter in recognition of the circumstances that prevailed with regard to these subscribers.’ Bloomberg quotes the NCC’s head of public affairs, Tony Ojobo, as saying that all other cellcos operating in Nigeria, including Indian-owned Airtel, Etisalat and local company Globacom, complied with the directive to disconnect unregistered subscribers by the August deadline. ‘We acted within our mandate as a regulator. It is only MTN for which we have been able to establish clear infractions. 5.1 million SIMs had to be forcefully disconnected by the NCC.’
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that MTN Nigeria is the country’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers by a considerable margin, claiming a wireless base of 62.8 million at the end of June 2015, giving it a market share of 42.2%. Furthermore, Nigeria accounts for the largest share (37%) of MTN Group’s total revenue, contributing turnover of ZAR53.9 billion (USD4.0 billion) in 2014.